Apart from the Bob Dylan's song where many people have tried to interpret its meaning, as I have seen on the Internet, I would like to know if the phrase in question is common in current English and what is its meaning.

Before searching on the Internet, I thought I knew it but finding nothing palpable I began to have doubts. I imagined that the phrase means futile, în vain, pointless or to no avail for, what would be the point to blow in the wind?

But, as it seems, no one interpreted it this way, on the contrary, the interpretation of the death's metaphor or the breaking winds from the Urban Dictionary has nothing to do with what I thought about it, so I just wonder: do people actually use it? Does it mean anything? On what context?

  • 1
    It's just a metaphorical twist on leaves being blown around randomly by gusts of wind. More poetic than singing about Brownian motion Jan 27, 2016 at 2:13
  • Thank you for the explanation, @FumbleFingers. I haven't as yet thought that blowing in the wind could be the same as being blown by the wind. Actually this is what I wanted to know and your comment solved my confusion. Jan 27, 2016 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


In his 1962 anti-war song, Bob Dylan asks several questions to ponder.

How many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned ?

How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?

He suggests

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind

Have you ever tried to catch something that was blown away from you?
Not easy.

The use of wind as a metaphor is poetic.
It cannot be seen, but only felt.
You know it's there all around you, but cannot grab it.

The answer is all around you (during the politically charged 60's)
Possibly you are (part of) the answer (we are all blown by the wind)
Possibly there nothing you can do, but let the wind blow around you

I've not heard it used for a while, whenever I do hear it, I think of the song.
Ngrams shows continued increasing usage since 1962 here but that may be from usage in different contexts from the song.

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    Bob Dylan gives few public interviews, and many of his songs are mysterious in their prose. However, I do recall seeing something specific regarding this particular tune. Perhaps it was Ed Sullivan ... I'm not sure. Nor does my aging brain recall how Robert described his own work, but it's got to be out there on the Internet somewhere. I mean, the interview.
    – Stu W
    Jan 27, 2016 at 4:01

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